I love travelling. I love being outside, in nature, seeing new places and trying new activities.
But it wasn’t always that way.
Mental illness entered my life when I was fourteen years old. I suffered in secret with anxiety and depression until I was eighteen. It only came out into the open when I attempted University and it triggered a huge breakdown. I was diagnosed with a really extreme social anxiety disorder. So extreme, that I physically hid under my bed if anyone came over to my house.
The following 10 years was a rollercoaster to say the least. If you want to know more about that time then feel free to read the blog I wrote for the charity Mind.
The first time I ventured further than my home on my own I ended up on the Quayside here in my home city of Newcastle upon Tyne. I didn’t talk to anyone but it was one of the first times I’d been out and not suffered anxiety. I sat down on some stairs near the Baltic Art Gallery and watched some seagulls fight over the remains of a Greggs pasty. I remember how the sun felt on my skin. Quite something when you’re whole world for ten years has been about hiding indoors.
The next time I went out I took a Metro to the coastal town of Tynemouth. I took a backpack full of drawing materials and sat on Longsands Beach. It might sound so silly, but I can’t describe how it felt to be there. Sitting there with the wind and the sand and the sound of the waves… well, it was amazing! I felt like I had hope for something better.
From there being outdoors became an addiction. I love it all, beach walking, trailing through forests, marching through wind and rain, chasing down trains and planes and packing everything into a bag and seeing where I end up. Being outside and seeing new places changed my mental health for the better. I made new friends and found a new confidence in myself.
However, being a new found adventurer had its downside. My sensitive skin started to suffer from the ever-changing weather and activities I was getting up to. I tried all kinds of creams but they either made things worse, or just didn’t do everything I needed. There was one occasion where I slipped down the embankment of a river and cut my hand on a rock. I managed to clean it with a tissue but would have to put something antiseptic on it later. Being someone who needs hand cream after being in water, I reached into my bag for a mini tube of moisturiser and applied it without thinking. Bad move! Perfumed products are not good on wounds! Eventually I would make sure I had hand cream, anti-septic cream, insect bite cream (they really like me!) and plasters floating around in my bag. My family joked that I was like a travelling pharmacist.
The final straw came when I developed eczema on my knuckles. My hands were dry and itchy from cycling and being out in the cold and rain. I began googling skin care products which were specifically designed for people who spent lots of time outdoors or travelling. There were the typical travel minatures, but I was seeing that a) they were fairly expensive for a very small quantity of product and b) they were still filled with snythetic ingredients. Surely there must be something that was meant for people like me. Something natural and healthy and full of all the wonderful things needed to help my weather, bike and insect battered skin better.
When I couldn’t find it, I thought, why not make it!
I researched natural ingredients for a long time. Finding out what they did and why they would benefit my skin. Eventually I had a list of ‘must-have’ items. Each one had a specific purpose… anti-inflammatory, anti-septic, antioxidant, coagulant, hydrating, water-proof etc. It was like nature had an answer for every problem!
I began experimenting with lots of ingredients in my kitchen. The one which stood out by far was Chia Oil. I had heard all about Chia seeds, but had never heard of the oil. I’d found some fascinating medical reports from America where kidney dialysis patients were given Chia oil to use on their skin. Typically these patients suffered from extreme forms of dry, itchy skin. Within 8 weeks every patient was found to have a significant increase in skin hydration and the ability to maintain that hydration. Chia oil also has some of the highest Omega fatty acid content found in nature, making it perfect for skin strengthening. Its also an antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory and less greasy than most other oils.
Chia oil became the foundation of all of my products. I started with a hand salve; containing everything needed for healthy, moisturised skin, as well as ingredients to help with insect bites, minor injuries and irritation. From there I created lip balms and muscle soothing body creams. All designed for the purpose of outdoor travel.
In August 2016 I was accepted on to Entrepreneurial Spark, a business accelerator powered by Natwest. Early versions of my Lip Balms go on sale at the Northumberland Country Show in May 2017 and I’m working with a great team to bring our final versions to market.
Brave & The Bold is about living your own adventure outdoors and giving you the healthiest products to keep your skin in the best possible condition. I’m so excited about launching my chia powered skin care range! – Emma 🙂